Why Spielberg’s Cheap Emotion

Steven Spielberg has confessed that if he had a chance to make this movie today, Roy would never have abandoned his family to go to outer space. Source: “Spielberg on Spielberg”, 2007, TCM.

Probably the cheapest, most predictable effect in movies today is the family reunion.  Whatever the adventure, where-ever the journey, whenever the time, ending the film with a family reunion gets the tears flowing and a sense of smug satisfaction all around.  You don’t need to think of a story or dialogue or a shot.  Just have the family reunite.  Done.  The “family” can even be a loosely knit group of friends, or workplace colleagues.

And one of Spielberg’s least uninteresting characters, ever, is Roy from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.  At the end of the movie [spoiler alert!] Roy decides to go into the spaceship and travel to some distant planet and have a lot of very, very interesting adventures.  The only problem is– and it’s not really a problem– Roy is married and has a family.   Richard Dreyfuss played Roy and did his best to suck all the life out of the character and I think he generally succeeded.  The drama here is just how intensely Roy wanted to restart his life.  That’s interesting.  But it’s not homogenized or generic or white bread enough for Spielberg.

So if Spielberg were making the movie today, he would resume his unending quest to remove all interesting characteristics from all his major characters and make sure there is a family reunion at the end or lots and lots and lots of weeping so that just in case his story or the filming or the acting didn’t move you– god knows, the horrible music by John Williams won’t–  you will be clobbered with this exhibitionistic display to tell you how to feel.



[Someone got there first— I fully agree with this guy except for his reference to Leonardo DiCaprio as an “actor”.]

If your mind was blown by the movie “Inception” you may not want to keep reading.  But I beg you to look up a movie called “Wings of Desire” and watch it carefully and then ask yourself if “Inception” ever was anything but a sequence of suggestive disconnected strings of shit.

Dominic Cobb is allegedly a brilliant man, but, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, the suspense about that is over in a flash: he is actually an utterly self-absorbed nimrod, a dink, a twerp, a pretentious little wienie.  But the film thinks you believe he is profound, so let’s proceed.  Nimrod Cobb is allegedly the greatest dream hacker in the world.  He is able to insert himself into someone’s dream.   In order to convince you that Cobb is actually a deeply sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful man, we learn that there is a MYSTERIOUS reason why he no longer does the dream extraction himself, which makes it inevitable, in this lame plot, that he will.  A Japanese man named Saito hires Cobb to penetrate his own dream, in order to test his ability.  What he really wants him to do is penetrate the head of Robert Fischer, son of the owner of a company Saito wants to see broken up.

So Cobb assembles his dreamy team of people we are supposed to believe are amazing, because we are told they are, through casting and lighting and camera angle and music.  They are Eames, a conman and identity forger; Yusuf, a chemist who concocts a powerful sedative, an achievement so startling it’s hard to credit it in this movie; and Ariadne, an architecture student who is so brilliant, well… well, she just is, damn it: and she is played with pouty discipline by Ellen Page, one of the least likable actresses in the movies.   When she is recruited, she doesn’t even know that hijacking someone’s dream is possible, but somehow she acquires the ability to construct architectural landscapes within the dream.  The connection between technique and theory here is so absurd I wonder how any audience could have sustained the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy it.

Ariadne indulges in some “dream-sharing” with Domie.  She founds out he’s really very, very deep because he has a very dark, very mysterious, deep, dark, dark, mysterious secret, involving DEATH.  There.  Are you fucking intrigued?  This is going to be very deep.

Is the idea that Dom wants to go home sensible?  Home is where?  I’m going to reread the plot summary to see if I figure out what the movie thinks I want to think about Dominic’s home.  My theory is that it’s just a generic touchstone to evoke cookie-cutter emotional links to something like real feelings.

Anyway, the older Fischer dies and Robert flies to Los Angeles with the body, so the team, including Saito– seriously, the buyer wants to participate?–  fuck this — sedate Fischer and “take” him into a dream, which has various levels, apparently.  Why?  Because you can do more special effects and chase scenes, which adds time to the thin plot, as far as I know.  At each level, one member of the team hangs around to make sure the other members, who are “deeper” into other dream levels, can get back.  Again, isn’t that wonderful metaphor for something?  No, it isn’t.

So they break into Fischer’s head but they are attacked, because if the concept of the film isn’t stupid enough for you, Fischer has actually prepared for this invasion by implanting body guards in his own dreams.  Like you do when planning your summer vacation.

Saito comes with them.  Yes, I’m not kidding.  And he is “wounded” in the dream, which means he might not wake up.  “Of course,” you think.  “The powerful sedatives needed to stabilize the multi-level dream will instead send a dying dreamer into ‘limbo’, a world of infinite subconscious”.  Come on, people, you can be serious with this shit, can you?  This is your favorite movie?

You know what– I’m not even going to bother.  “Inception” is so infantile, obvious, and shallow that it does not deserve another word.



Pull Both Goalies

Here are the problems with this research.

  1. There is no baseline.  There won’t be until one or more teams decides to challenge orthodoxy and try not pulling their goalie when trailing by one or two goals near the end of the game.
  2. The study assumes that opposing teams will not change their behavior if teams start pulling their goalie early.  The most obvious anomaly will be teams that smartly decide to start taking potshots at the empty net rather than just clearing the puck out of their zone.
  3. The study assumes that the chances of scoring a tying goal in the last few minutes of a game are the same as they are for the rest of the game (see 1).  It is more likely that teams trying to tie a close game will intensify effort as the game draws to a close and generate more scoring chances regardless of whether they have pulled the goalie or not.  Teams defending a lead tend to give up opportunities to score (pinching at the blue line, for example) in favor of a tighter defense.  Perversely, this allows the trailing team to play more aggressively (eg. pinching at the blue line).  (My impression this year is that more and more teams are actually continuing to attack during these periods– which, I think, is smart.)
  4. The study almost idiotically asserts that you should pull your goalie by the middle of the 2nd period if you are trailing by 4 goals or more.  I would love to see a team try this so we can settle this absurdity for once and for all.  Please.
  5. In reference to point 4, the flaw here should have been obvious to all concerned.  Defending teams score into an empty net 3 times as often as the trailing team scores the tying goal.  That is in a period of 90 seconds or less.  If you extend that period to 30 minutes, as this study suggests, the defending team is not thereby still 3 times as likely to score one goal as the other team is to score one goal: it is as likely to score about 20-30 goals.  So this idea only works if the trailing team not only scores first, but continues to score, several times, before the other team can score.  And most of those goals will be scored before the trailing team, of course, can tie it.

Okay, it’s not all that complicated.  If pulling the goalie gives you an advantage, why wouldn’t both teams do it?  Yes, I mean at the same time.

And to the rabble who go, “of course the team with the lead wouldn’t pull the goalie– why would they?  They have the lead, you moron.”

There– feel better?  Got that off your chest?  Now let’s proceed.

In every sport, in every aspect, something that is a real advantage for one team is a real advantage for the other: a heavier bat, a bigger goalie pad, height, size.  (In football, for comparison’s sake, we’re talking about the defensive or offensive alignments being comparable: not one team’s offense vs. another team’s defense.)

So why wouldn’t both teams pull their goalie for the last 3 minutes of a close game?  The naive answer is, because only the team that is trailing would benefit.  That is sheer absurdity: an advantage is an advantage no matter what the score is.   The naive fan, however, decides that the trailing team will never score in the last minutes of a game if they don’t pull their goalie.  Meantime, the defending team would obviously benefit by putting the game out of reach, even though, I will concede, that doesn’t increase the value of the win.  But increasing your chance of winning does have a real value.  Obviously.

That is not a dispensable piece of information: it is indisputably true– there is no factor that makes it more advantageous for one team to pull their goalie than the other.  Either you increase your chances of winning or you don’t.  Unless– and here’s the fly in the ointment of those who argue for pulling your goalie early– unless you assert that no team can score in the last few minutes of a game if they have not pulled their goalie.  That is plainly nonsense, but it hasn’t been proven because not a single coach in the NHL will not pull their goalie in the last minute of a game in which they have a one-goal deficit.   Not one.  If a coach, using his head, decided to not do it, he would face hysteria on the level of the Salem witch trials.

And the same with a coach with a one-goal lead who pulled his goalie with  a face-off in his opponents end with three minutes left.  If this is such a freakin’ advantage, why wouldn’t he?  Because, you admit, it would be stupid.

And if it is an advantage because teams only do it if they have a face-off, or possession, in the other team’s end, then obviously the team with the lead will occasionally also have a faceoff or possession in the other team’s end.

Yes, it would be stupid.  Because he will have increased the chances of his opponent tying the game with an easy shot into the empty net.

So why is this not stupid for the team that is trailing by one goal?

So team “A” has a one goal lead and a faceoff in their defensive zone.  Team “B” pulls their goalie.  Suppose Team “A” gets the puck– a not unlikely development — and gets it out to centre ice.  (I leave aside the point to be made that a team may begin to adopt the strategy of actively shooting for the empty net; in fact, many teams have clearly already begun to adopt this strategy, which I believe, will kill this entire movement relatively quickly.)

Back to my hypothetical: Team “A” shoots it deep into Team “B”‘s zone and pulls their goalie.  So now we have both teams with six skaters and empty nets.

What do you think would happen?  Do you begin to understand why this is an absurd strategy?  Or, if Team “B” scores to tie the game, do you really think they will leave their goalie out so they can try to win it in regulation time?

Here’s a scenario that, I will concede, makes some sense.  A little.  A preposterous amount, but some:  pull your goalie whenever you have a face-off in your opponents end of the rink.

Well, nobody does that either.  For reasons I would think were obvious.

The fundamental problem with this entire discussion is that nobody– not a single coach– will test the theory that not pulling your goalie works better.  Not one.  Not a single fricken coach.  Because the team’s fans would raise hell and every commentator and sports-writer would call him an idiot.

I have noticed that many baseball commentators continue to act baffled when teams don’t automatically sacrifice bunt when trailing late in the game with a runner on first and nobody out, 20 years after this strategy was clearly proven to be worthless.

Note on another factor not measured: it is obvious that a team that is trailing plays differently in the last few minutes of a game– they see time running out.  They expend more energy and effort because they know there is an approaching deadline after which they can rest.  The know that if they expended that much effort and energy earlier in the game, they would not have much of it left for the finish.  This is a bit ritual, and a bit practical.  And this is why I would argue that pulling your goalie may actually be counter productive, but here’s the bottom line:  we can never know what the chances of scoring without pulling your goalie are, because nobody does it.

(Actually, somebody does: apparently, pulling the goalie is rarely done in the Russian professional leagues.  They don’t believe in it.  It would be really interesting to get their data.)

To “prove” that pulling your goalie is a smart strategy you must have a baseline to compare it to, just as Bill James had a baseline of teams not sacrificing to compare the strategy to.  (It’s easy in baseball: most teams don’t normally sacrifice early in the game, and it’s easy to measure if there is a improvement in the success of the strategy later in the game.)  That’s why his conclusions are reliable, and yours, empty-net enthusiasts, are not.

But even without this kind of baseline, listen to yourselves:

Since the best teams in hockey win about twice as often at the worst teams, they are likely behind near the end of the game roughly half as often, and therefore would get only about half the benefit from optimal pulling. If the average benefit is 0.02, we might guess that the benefit is 0.0133 for the best teams….


(From SSRN_Pulling_the_goalie_hockey_and_investment_implications.pdf)

In other words, even if it did have a demonstrated benefit, it would be tiny.  None of these studies seem to factor in the possibility of increased intensity of effort in the last few minutes resulting in a normalized base scoring potential that would be higher– which seems likely– than the baseline used to calculate the pulling the goalie conveys an advantage.  And, more importantly, none of these studies factor in the possibility that defending teams will behave differently if teams pull their goalie earlier.   

We are, in fact, already seeing teams take pot-shots at the empty net.  They seem to be more than happy to accept a few icing calls as the expense of this strategy.  Think about it: if this happens in the first few seconds after a face-off– precisely when it is most likely that you might have possession of the puck– the risk is substantially minimized.

After suggesting that a team should pull their goalie in the first period if down by 4 or 5 goals or more — seriously?

Though we’d admit the assumptions and simplifications of our model are probably being pushed much harder for this “losing by a ton early” analysis.

Ah– the writer begins to realize just how absurd his premise is.









Punk Puritans

This Podcast

Hanna Rosen is the host of this interesting podcast about punk rockers in Richmond, Virginia.   Emily Nixon is a young woman who was a member of a group called I.C.E. Motherfuckers.  Do they sound tough or what?

Emily Nixon: “All that mattered was hanging out and making music and making mischief”.

Emily Nixon: “You always feared for your life at the shows but that was part of the fun”.

Emily Nixon was the front man for the band I.C.E. Motherfuckers– if I have that right.  (Yes, I said “man”.  Punks don’t care.)  Emily Nixon is the subject of the podcast (above) that allegedly addresses issues of “calling out” people for sexual misbehavior.  No other misbehaviors need apply–as we shall see– just anything sexual.  Anything, you know, “dirty”.  Because then we can all be automatically outraged, horrified, and extremely, extremely upset.

Emily was proud of having assaulted an audience member at a gig.  Apparently, he chose to dance in the mosh pit during one of her songs about liberation and equality and empowerment.  She jumped off the stage and punched him hard.  That is assault.

We do not get called out for assault.  Nothing wrong with the assault.

Emily Nixon said “You always feared for your life at the shows but that was part of the fun”.  What a ballsy chick!  Then she recounted how she made out in her bedroom one night with someone from another band and then, mid-make-out, changed her mind and told him to stop because his bandmates were in the next room.   And he did stop, but then he locked the door so his bandmates wouldn’t walk in on them making out, and that creeped her out and then they slept in the same bed together but in the morning he touched her suggestively but stopped when she didn’t respond.  She froze.  She didn’t know what to do.  She froze.  He stopped probably because there was no response.

No mischief there.  No punches.  Not much of that punk attitude either.

She was fearless at her shows in which she feared for her life, but was so terrified of the hand on her ass that she could not even croak a single word like “no” or “fuck off”.  So she froze, and he stopped.  So, he needed to be called out.   Yessiree.  But “the feeling” was that “there was a sense” that if she did call him out, he would be “protected”.   You know– white male privilege, I guess.  So–  unlike the guy she destroyed soon afterwards who mysteriously was not defended– she didn’t try to get this guy ostracized, castrated, or evicted.  She didn’t even punch him.

But then we have the second guy.  I have no idea why she didn’t “have a sense” about the second guy.

Which is too bad because a guy who puts his hand on your ass while he is bed with you in the morning should really at least lose his job.  Or get punched.   At the very least, I think that if I were Emily Nixon, I would at least ask him to go find his own bed.

There was another guy.  Her best friend in the world.  A real friend.  And he was in another band.  And then she found out that he did something really, genuinely, viciously awful– far worse than putting a hand on her ass in her bed in the morning:  this guy sent a picture of himself naked to a girl unsolicited.  Oh my gawd.  Even a girl who is used to fearing for her life at her own concerts was just overwhelmed with the gravity of this horror.  Oh my gawd!  He had to be stopped.  But wait– we’ve been best friends for, like, forever.  Oh my gawd!  Out he goes.  She “outed him” on social media.

I like the word “outed” here.  It conveys– erroneously, in my opinion– the idea that men hitting on women is something they are all trying to keep secret and that only brave, courageous, gutsy women who risk their lives at punk concerts will have the nerve to expose them.  So they are revealed, exposed, displayed, excoriated.  So she did.

But it also suggests that a lot of women are secretly obsessed with the idea that all the men around them are secret plotting all kinds of devilishness and should be exposed whenever possible.  Because that is how women get power over men: by shaming them.  That is what some women said about Louis C. K.  He wasn’t ashamed enough.  He needed more correction.

He was kicked out of his band.

Seriously?  A punk band expelled a member for misbehavior?  For violating social norms?  For being inappropriate?

And he was kicked out of the clubs.

And ostracized.

And un-friended.

And evicted.

And fired.

He disappeared somewhere– she heard that he “wasn’t doing that good”.  I wonder if, at that point, Emily was more than a little intoxicated with her newfound power.  Was it as exciting as punching the man in the mosh pit?

Satisfaction!  I am impressed with Emily’s ruthlessness and cruelty here.  No sense being coy about it– I see this as just an amazing expression of sheer sadistic cruelty.  If you think it’s something else or think it should be called something else, I’m calling you out: it’s cruelty and you should own it.  It’s mean.  It’s brutal.  It’s a little psychotic.  It is psychotic, by my definition, which is the capacity to inflict enormous pain without empathy for your victim.  Psychokiller, as the Talking Heads used to say.

You really owe it to yourself at this point to watch the documentary “Dig!”, about Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Just to give you an idea of how punk musicians ought to behave.

She admits– with enthusiasm– that this is “vigilante justice”.  “It felt so good… that’s what he deserved”.  I am the instrument of God’s almighty wrath!

“I’m not okay with it”, she said.  That phrase is now a kind of mantra for the new Puritans.  There are things I am not okay with too, but I haven’t been able to start a movement yet against people who attend leadership training seminars and love Disney.

Then we have Hanna’s impenetrable snark: Emily did the courageous thing even though it cost her.   I was not able to determine what it “cost” her other than the risk of “the feeling” that someone might disapprove of disproportionate consequences for mildly rude behavior.  You know how things are.

Then along came Herbert.

It’s hard to discern Herbert’s motivations here.  Maybe he thought she was a tad self-righteous.  I hoped that he might have been motivated by a desire for justice after the disproportionate punishment meted out to the guy she “outed” but it was more vicious than that.  Herbert knew Emily.  Herbert knew that Emily, in high school, had added a nasty emoji to a nude picture of an acquaintance that someone had posted on social media.  Yeah, I don’t get it either.  Apparently, she did other nasty things.  She saw a girl having sex with someone at a party and slut-shamed her at school.  Herbert revealed all this on social media and implored Emily’s friends to shun and ostracize her and implored her band– I.C.E. Motherfuckers– I’m not making this up— to expel her.

They all said, hey, a lot of us were creeps and mean and rude in high school, and made mistakes, and if she apologizes, we’ll all just move on and hope that we have learned to be better people.

Of course not.  They all did what Herbert implored them to do.  Emily Nixon was suddenly persona non grata.  Her friends shunned her.  Clubs banned her.  Her band fired her.  They even issued formal instructions on how she was be punished.  This is a the punk community in Richmond, Virginia.  We are so rebellious.  We are so rogue.  We are so uncompromising.  We are so virtuous.  We are pure.  We are the wrath of God and you shall pay for your transgressions!

Hanna interviewed “Jay”, the girl in the nude picture.  She was much kinder than anyone else in the podcast.  She accepted Emily’s apologies as genuine.  How nice.  Let’s get back to the guy who texted the nude picture and ask him to apologize.  No?  You want him to rot in hell?  Well, she didn’t say it, but if you broadcast Jay’s generous gesture you really need to address the issue of why Emily gets this consideration but nobody else.

We also, by the way, have a clue as to Emily’s character and psychosis in that “slut-shaming” of someone in her high school who had sex with a boy.  Seriously, Emily?  You were disgusted that she had sex with someone?  You assumed everyone else would be disgusted too?  You thought it would make you cool?  What kind of person thinks like that?

Herbert was not forgiving.  He openly declared that he didn’t care if Emily lived or died.  She deserved it.  Then, perhaps with some misgivings about coming off as too vindictive, he related how he had been abused as a child by his father.  He actually got tearful.  I thought, you have got to be kidding.  No.  He cried.  But he now has a great relationship with his parents because, well, it got better.  So, apparently he gave his father a chance to apologize and make it up to him.  Very nice.  Very kind.  Very reasonable.

Emily, on the abuse she then suffered: “It just wouldn’t stop”.   Oh, that was touching.  It just wouldn’t stop.

She is referring to the relentless attacks she suffered on social media.  She retreated to her job and her apartment and her boyfriend,  a shell of her former self.  “I’m not allowed to come to shows anymore.  I’m not allowed to make music anymore.  This was my entire life since I was 13.”

Hanna sly implies something about Emily’s horrible behavior that she never offers to any of the males in the story: that it is forgivable.  That she deserved the chance to make it right, to apologize.”  I suspect Hanna would have felt quite comfortable with the CBC panel that announced that, in the #metoo movement, there was never “collateral damage”.  All men are guilty.  All women are telling the truth.  She tries to cover her tracks but her selectivity is telling: Jay thinks Emily’s remorse is genuine.

Hanna calls the abusers “brutal or cruel”.   Communities have always punished severely those who violate the rules in order to  “enforce the moral code” and “keep the community safe”.   She said, “maybe we’ve not given pain enough credit for all the ways its helped us”.  “The community decides”… no law or police or judges.  No proof required.  Hanna declares that inflicting pain on others is not only acceptable– it’s great!  There is “no other way… it’s just what humans do.”

This has crossed over into hysteria.  It has the hallmarks of hysteria.  It is taking on the characteristics of an irrational, extreme reaction out of proportion to the real weight of action that precipitates the reaction.

Then Hanna Rosen has the chutzpah to complain that Herbert didn’t care about Emily at all– excuse me?  I didn’t hear that violin playing when you described how Emily crucified her best friend.

Hanna idiotically concludes that this shows pain is good.  It moves you forward.

Pretty well everyone in this podcast, including the host, with the exception of “J”, is appalling.

Self-Approval Ratings

One of the most perplexing polls in the currently political climate is the one showing that only about 20% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.  About 80% disapprove.

How can that be?  Did we not just have an election?  Did you not vote?  How on earth did the wrong candidate manage to usurp your candidate’s seat?

Oh.  Nobody usurped anything here.  The guy you voted for won.  Now you tell me he makes you vomit.  He is a failure.  You hate him.  You hate him even more than the president.

But this is not possible.  You have a democracy.  The majority wins.  You chose this Congress.  You’re obviously a masochist.


The Meaning of Facts

In his highly entertaining book, The Seven Types of Atheism, released in October in the U.S., philosopher John Gray puts it this way: “Religion is an attempt to find meaning in events, not a theory that tries to explain the universe.” It exists because we humans are the only species, so far as we can know, who have evolved to know explicitly that, one day in the future, we will die. And this existential fact requires some way of reconciling us to it while we are alive.   Andrew Sullivan in The Intelligencer.

The obvious question is, how can an event be meaningful if you don’t believe there is any meaning to all events– to the random conglomeration of events and things and ideas make up the universe?  If you can’t explain the universe, what meaning could an individual event have?  Other than, as some agnostics would have it, part of a life that is no less wonderful and amazing because it is limited to our lived experiences?

If you see an ant crawling along a box car, you could say that it is trying to get to a certain location.  Does that matter if the boxcar is going somewhere else?  Is the ant’s purposeful journey meaningful, if he can never possibly get back to his nest, or the food he is looking for?

Conversely, if an event is meaningful because it is part of a narrative of your relationship with an almighty creator, then how can you not draw conclusions about the nature of the universe from the meaning that you give your life?


The Defensive Replacement

You have seen this many times before:  a baseball team, leading in the late innings of a close game, will take out one of their players who has defensive deficiencies and replace him with a player who is better at defense but not as good of a hitter.  The idea is, now that we have a lead,  we will place a priority on preventing the other team from scoring rather than on scoring more (unnecessary) runs ourselves.

I would put it this way: we have a line-up on the field that has demonstrated it’s superiority to the other team by scoring more runs than they do, so let’s alter that line-up.  Let’s remove a player that helped give us that lead and replace him with a player who is less effective.

We know he is less effective because otherwise he would have started the game.

Does this make sense?  It makes as much sense as the guard against doubles defense late in the game and the sacrifice bunt.  In other words, it doesn’t make sense.

You have an offensive player who, say, bats .280 and walks a little, but costs you some defense.  He’s not going to miss every defensive play.  Nor is the defensive player going to hit .100.  Just how often will the difference in defensive capability matter?    At third base, it will affect a small number of hits that are slightly out of the reach of an average or below average defender.   But then, the third baseman is likely to bat once in the last 3 innings– perhaps twice.  How much difference will an extra .100 make on the offense?



Bring Your Gun

If the last Congress were true to its “principles,” it would have passed legislation specifically allowing the public to bring firearms into every courtroom (including the Supreme Court) and every meeting of the executive or legislative branches in each state and the federal government.

Let them play by the rules they set for others. Let them live in constant fear, consoled only by the ridiculous notion that the “good guys” will protect us from the “bad guys.” Let them be visited by the tragedies we see played out in almost every other arena.

A “second-class right,” Justice Thomas? Then why are you not speaking out forcefully to allow the public to bring guns into the courthouse in which you sit?

From a letter to the Editor, New York Times, in reference to an article by Linda Greenhouse on the shift of the Supreme Court on Second Amendment rights.

Clarence Thomas has, of late, provocatively insisted that the court is treating the second amendment like a “second-class right”.  That’s rhetorically clever and plays to the Republican base:  how dare you impede, in the slightest, my passionate desire to own a produced designed to kill people?  Well, actually, to defend my family.  Yes, that’s it.  My family.

This is really a brilliant piece of logic.  If the right to buy and own guns should be protected because of it’s sacred contribution to the safety of all Americans, why can’t you bring those guns into a courtroom, or Congress, or City Hall?  Why don’t politicians want to be safe?

Because they know this is a lie.  They know it in their bones.  They know that a courtroom full of guns is not safer– it is far more dangerous– to everybody.  So they make an exception for themselves that they refuse to grant to students, church-goers, concert-goers, and anyone else who does not believe that guns make you safe.  We are going to make sure there are lots and lots and lots of guns out there, including assault rifles, because, we have no choice: the Constitution guarantee’s this right.

But in my court room?  Are you nuts?  In my council chamber?  Never.  Into Congress?  Not in a million years.

You think I’d want anyone to be able to bring guns into here, as if it was a church, or a school, or a concert hall?  Never.

They are liars.